Has the spoken word replaced the written one?

JC5RHF The political speech of Demosthenes, 384-322 BC, a Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens, against Philip II of Macedon

To judge by the podcast-palooza that is the core of book marketing these days, the answer might be yes. While the podcasts are supposed to result in written-word (book) sales, I wonder whether listeners may be content to just listen to a lengthy interview with the “author.” (The nature of authorship changes in this context.) The definitive answer will be reflected in final book sales. The obvious paradox is that fewer sales will lead to fewer authors writing and being published in long-form. Then there will be fewer people to interview. The end might just be short-form bloggers being interviewed by short-form podcast hosts.

If the spoken word is nudging out the written one, will audio and/or video podcasts now count as the definitive record of knowledge generation and dissemination? It really depends on the durability of digital communication and storage. No podcasts are being played or kept on physical, reel-to-reel magnetic tape. So it all comes down to the future of digital media as the “official record” of human events.

My first take on that would be negative. Digital recording and storage technology changes every few years (or decades at best). Content on prior formats risks disappearing from the historical record. In contrast, little can compete with the durability of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or high-quality, acid-free paper. They can last centuries if not millennia.

The digital literati are laughing heartily at this point. They would take the opposite view: that digital media–the succession of 0s and 1s kept in the “cloud”–is the only safe & reliable way to preserve the official record of our time on this planet. They would go further and aver that the best preservation of the written word–all those dusty texts in unused libraries–is through digitization. Thank you Project Gutenberg and many others.

We shall see. For now, here is an annotated guide to digital audio discussions of The Ownership Dividend, a book for investment practitioners written in the early 21st century by an obscure historian of modern Russia turned institutional portfolio manager and finance book writer.

1. New Books Network with John Emrich. I am also a host on this crowd-sourced interview platform. (Full disclosure: I own a small slice of the NBN, serve on the board, and am long-time friends with founder Marshall Poe.


2. Hidden Forces with my friend Demetri Kofinas. I am a premium subscriber; you should be too.


3. The CFA Institute ‘s Guiding Assets Podcast hosted by Mike Wallberg, CFA, MJ. Given that I am more than a little critical of academic finance in my writings, I was delighted (and a little surprised) to get an invite from the profession’s gatekeeper to talk about the new book.


4. I’ve gotten a warm reception in the United Kingdom, where investing for cash is the norm, not the exception. Thanks to Alex Newman of the Investors’ Chronicle.


5. Not a podcast strictly defined, but my taped conversation with Russell Napier of the Library of Mistakes in Edinburgh in front of a full house on Valentine’s Day was a hoot. Now available on Youtube.